|Not the best picture in the world, but that's a crispy tomato on top...|
1 lb elbow macaroni
1/2 lb bacon, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano (or any hard, salty cheese)
3 Tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
4 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
3 hefty cloves of garlic, minced
1 habanero, minced
3 Tablespoons flour
3 cups whole milk, warmed
1.5 lbs (24oz) of cheese... cheddar works well, but feel free to experiment... cubed to allow for easy melting
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
2 Tablespoons chives, chopped
2 decent sized tomatoes, cut into thick slices
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375.
Boil your macaroni for 2 minutes less than the package indicates and set aside. Meanwhile, fry your bacon pieces in a large skillet until you've rendered a good amount of bacon fat and your bacon pieces are dark and crispy. Remove the bacon from the skillet. Add a little extra cooking oil (butter, canola, peanut, olive... whatever) and drop in your onion, garlic, and habanero. Cook them until their translucent but not brown... 5-ish minutes. Set aside.
In a large pot melt 4 tablespoons of butter. To it, whisk in your flour. Slowly whisk in your milk. Bring to a light simmer but not boil. Don't burn the milk! Drop in your cheese and slowly melt until it's thick and creamy. Drop in your bacon, onions, garlic, and habanero. Add your thyme, chives, and 1 Tablespoon of parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste, then add your macaroni. Pour everything into a greased casserole and top with sliced tomato.
In a bowl mix together your parmigiano reggiano, panko, and the rest of your parsley. Sprinkle it over the casserole and pop that sucker in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the panko is browned. I ended up blowtorching the tomatoes a little bit to get them nice and dark, but that's optional. Serve it hot.
Ok, I know... this is like a Paula Dean recipe on crack. Bacon, cheese, butter, white carbs... There's no denying that if you ate this every day you would die. But man... is it good.